Bob Dylan Chart by Mercury (2021)

UPDATE: about 7 years ago when I first gained custom chart abilities round these parts, the first thing I did was this chart. I was indeed listening intently to Dylan each day in chronological order, trying to write a sensible review, and then ranking them. Years went by and I never got past the 80s (go figure...lol) but I now will open this up and make it public again. I have added every album i think and then i'll rank them without reviews in some cases. But for now the first 30 is all done and reviewed and then the next 40 or so are just the very long chronological list of what I have left to do.

I do plan on (yes I know I have said the following before) continuing and giving new listens to all these albums.

Let me know what you think.

There are 14 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Bob Dylan Chart has an average rating of 93 out of 100 (from 21 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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6 September 2013-
All hail the King of Albums! the apex of greatness! The Legend at his peak! HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED! A milestone. A rock album of such greatness as to basically end all rock albums. So fucking good that it is silly to try to express in words.

9 songs, 51 minutes, and not a single dull or less than brilliant moment. Varied, yet cohesive. Rough and soulful yet at times downright beautiful and sweet. Hectic yet beautifully organized. Also this is an album that manages to get greater and greater and hits it's peak from tracks 6 to 9. I mean how can you top "Queen Jane Approximately" to "Highway 61 Revisited" to "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" to finally the all time greatest album closer "Desolation Row"? The answer is you can't possibly do so.

The poetry of the words here are so nonchalant yet at the same time incredibly deft and literate. It feels almost like he just could make these timeless lines in his sleep. He was so damn precise and expressive in this time. Nobody has ever approached this zenith of excellence in my opinion.

The songwriting is monumentally, astoundingly, overwhelmingly good through out. The musicianship is just ballsy, creative, bluesy, soulful, and perfect for Bob's lyrics and voice.

Honestly, I am this damn close to sticking this as my number 1 overall album. As it is, I sort of felt it was an inevitability that this would end up at number 1 on this chart. It's just too good. Well, it's still early and I still have 50+ records to listen to chronologically so maybe one of them will pull the upset. But it ain't bloody likely.

Grade 100/100 (clearly)

EDIT: I just moved this up from my #3 to my #2. Hot diggidy damn, I'm in love again!
[First added to this chart: 09/07/2013]
Year of Release:
1965
Appears in:
Rank Score:
35,668
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1 December 2013

"Blood On The Tracks". It's an album almost synonymous with maturity and the absolute expression of all the nuances of love and loss. It's an album that I notice I love more and more as my life ticks along. When I first heard it at the age of 12 I didn't get it. I didn't see what was so great about it. And even now to this day, I feel their is a more relatable feeling I get from his 60s music. I am 24 years old as I write this. Dylan was 21 and 24 when he made my other 2 favorite albums of his. Is that all it comes down to? Perhaps.

As for this album, well it's a legendary piece of art. It transcends my amateur description. There are just so many themes and details and emotions that are expressed here. The album is a roller coaster, it takes you through all the highs of love found and all the lows of regret. And in the end you leave this record wiser than when you entered.

To name the highlights is basically to name off every track. It's literally that great. The songs that just absolutely gut me every time I hear them are "Simple Twist of Fate" (perhaps one of the most sobering songs ever), "You're A Big Girl Now", "Meet Me In The Morning" (so simple and beautiful and the fucking steel guitar and slide guitar at the end is pure aesthetic perfection), "Shelter From The Storm", and the closer "Buckets of Rain".

Oh and about this closer...it's perfect. I use that word "perfect" too much, I know. But this song AS A CLOSER is perfection. It's like a little nugget of almost simpleton-level wisdom that floats in and soothes us after the emotional journey of the rest of the album that just ended. It's so damn simple and playful and REAL.

This album feels so absolutely relaxed and natural. It's a grand example of the plain expression of very exact and thought-out art. It's an album that opens up more and more not only with each listen but also with each passing year of living. It's an album that is always there to help get me through.

Thanks, Bob.

Grade 100/100
[First added to this chart: 01/04/2014]
Year of Release:
1975
Appears in:
Rank Score:
27,122
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4 September 2013-
Another absolutely stunning classic. But it's not only that, it possesses it's own unique sound and style. It is, most notably, the first album of his to feature electric and amplified instruments extensively and rock and roll music. The rock on here is much more subdued than the barrage of blues mania that would be "Highway 61 Revisited". But nonetheless hearing this album chronologically after listening to 9 hours of early, Folk Dylan, is very informative. It makes me see more clearly why it was so surprising for the fans and general public back in '65.

Anyway, the music is fabulous. It's a folky/rock/bluesy sound that just works throughout the first 60% of the album. And then the last 4 songs take the extra instruments away again and strip it down to basic Dylan formula of voice guitar and harmonica. But man these lyrics on the second side are groundbreaking, biting, brutal, frightening at times and down right pure poetry! Those 4 songs contain some of the greatest poetic songwriting ever conceived!

Yeah, album has a timeless opener, closer and some other classics in between.

Oh, and "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), the greatest song of all time? Possibly? I'm inclined to think so again after having just relistened to it. My god! It literally takes my breathe away whenever I hear it to this day!

Grade: 96/100
[First added to this chart: 09/04/2013]
Year of Release:
1965
Appears in:
Rank Score:
14,770
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29 August 2013 - (recent rave re-evaluation required rapid re-ranking)

Wow! What a special album this one is. This record is so personal and real. It was such a hard left turn in terms of theme in comparison to "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I personally love this more introspective vibe on here.

Overall I will say this album isn't quite as consistent as its predecessor. This albums only weakness, if slight, is I don't personally feel it flows perfectly throughout. I don't love the transition from the openly funny "Motorpsycho Nitemare" to the masterpeice of introspective poetry "My Back Pages", as an example.

Still none of the tracks here are less than very good and the High point - "My Back Pages" is about as beautiful an expression of a songwriter ever recorded. And the other highs like "Chimes of Freedom", "Black Crow Blues", "To Ramona", "Spanish Harlem Incident", "Ballad In Plain D" and (no matter how many times I hear it) "It Ain't Me Babe" present practically a clinic on how one goes about being mysterious, sensitive, emotive, intelligent, poetic, sincere and never too serious about oneself all on one album. Truly this is just another fucking peice of genius from The Genius.

Grade: 91/100 (scratch that! its a 96/100 and whereas before it was #9 I think, its #3 as of now)
[First added to this chart: 08/30/2013]
Year of Release:
1964
Appears in:
Rank Score:
1,822
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25 August 2013 -
This was the first album I ever listened to in full by Bob. And "Ballad of Hollis Brown" was the song that fully brought home the power of the man. That song is still perhaps my favorite Dylan songs, certainly top 5. It's so morbid and brutal and lonesome and intensity drips from every word and note. So glorious.

The album as a whole is in many ways just as great as "Freewheelin'". It's a far more dark and serious and grim album than the aforementioned album. It's less varied in style and sound than "Freewheelin'" but almost as condistent. The classics are here in plenty.

And any album that is this great and pure and also influenced Townes Van Zandt, is one of the all-time greats as far as I am concerned.

96/100
[First added to this chart: 08/24/2013]
Year of Release:
1964
Appears in:
Rank Score:
3,807
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6 September 2013-
Honestly "Highway 61 Revisited" is a damn near impossible act to follow. And this album is one of the few that can even sort of attempt it.
And this album is yet another gem in a string of many from Dylan in the 60s. It has a distinct, gorgeous sound that a Dylan described best as "that wild mercury sound". This record has polish, soul, some of the greatest poems in the guise of poems ever put on record.
The sound is equal parts Chicago blues and Memphis soul meets folk rock. It's really really distinctly Dylan throughout.
This album lacks the pure fire of the previous album, and the consistency too. It just doesn't hit quite the same peaks.
I will say that the first album of this double album is just about as great as it gets. "Visions of Johanna" and "I Want You" and "Sooner or Later" and "Just Like A Woman" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile" and "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" are all masterful! The 2nd album however drops off significantly in impressiveness and memorable classics . The closer "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is a clear exception... Sublime thy song is! Oh and "Obviously 5 Believers" is dope as hell too! (Anyone hear the same vibe there as Captain Beefheart's rendition of "Diddy Wah Diddy"?)

Overall, it's a brilliant album that I truly love. Highly recommended. I Just recommend "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Bringing It All Back Home" over this slightly. The greatest trilogy of albums ever? Perhaps. God bless.

Grade: 94/100
[First added to this chart: 09/07/2013]
Year of Release:
1966
Appears in:
Rank Score:
31,100
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24 August 2013 -
This is just about as perfect as it gets. This album just feels good, natural, real and off the cuff. At the same time it is perhaps the most beautifully varied set of songs Dylan ever put out. The break up songs, the social songs, the love songs, the talking blues songs, the blues songs, the cover songs are all immaculately performed and beautifully recorded. The some of all it's parts is just a complete musical experience that is so much deeper and richer and more reaffirming than any (almost) purely acoustic guitar/harmonica folk album should possibly be. This record is miraculously good. And Dylan was just 21 when he recorded this! WTF!?!?!!

Grade 100/100 (new rating is 94/10, still a classic, but not #2 on list anymore as you can see)
[First added to this chart: 08/24/2013]
Year of Release:
1963
Appears in:
Rank Score:
9,610
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11 September 2013-
A live set from the day after the album Blonde On Blonde dropped. 2 disc set, first disc is his first acoustic set and disc 2 is when he comes back out with his band The Band and ROCKS THEIR SOCKS OFF!

It's his rock stuff, and the boos and the back and forth with the crowd ("JUDAS!" "I don't believe you, YOU'RE A LIAR") that gets most of the focus here. Truly though disc 1 is pretty great too. Dylan seems legitimately interested and engaging and the folk fan crowd loves that there no sign of the inevitable band. The rendition of "Visions of Johanna" gets a bit emotionally flat toward the end for me. And I'm not loving some of the harmonica solos here on disc 1. Otherwise, "She Belongs to Me" and "Desolation Row" and "Just Like A Woman" are all pretty killer.

As for disc 2, the electric set, it's perfect. It's just pure, no nonsense rock music at its most aggressive (for that time especially). I'm reminded of that sports cliche that a great team plays it's best and with it's greatest fire when it's in hostile territory. This band also seems to run off that old idea. As the crowd gets more and more rude, the band just gets louder and more precise. This album just oozes defiance and greatness. Literally every one of the 8 songs on disc 2 are brilliant. In many cases these live versions are greater than the originals or at least equally great in a different way. Disc 2 is a 100.

Overall, it's a classic. Maybe my favorite live album ever.

Grade: 95/100
[First added to this chart: 09/11/2013]
Year of Release:
1998
Appears in:
Rank Score:
739
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30 September 2013-
It is hard to describe the merits and qualities of this album. For me at least. Because it is sorta strange. The bulk of it was originally recorded with The Band in Woodstock in '67. Dylan and The Band recorded A LOT more than this. And they didn't release it for awhile. Finally in '75 they released it on the heels of the overwhelming enthusiasm that greeted "Blood on the Tracks". BUT the recordings from that time were added to a bit and cleaned up. And even more weird was The Band randomly added about 8 songs they had recorded seperate from "The Basement".

Now the Band material that is added is pretty killer at times and in and of itself is always solid. It seems unnecessary is all. The Dylan and the Band material is BRILLIANT! It's hard to say what makes it sound so great. It just sounds utterly unrushed, unconcerned, non-chalant and relaxed. It feels like the weight has been taken off these guys' shoulders and they are just making cool music that they want to make. The stories and lyrics on here feel sorta non-sequitor at times. They don't feel particularly deep, or at least it doesn't feel like Dylan is going out of his way to make deep, important music or trying to top BoB.

The music is rough, tough, natural. It mixes all these great folk and country and rock elements together so well. There is just a lot of uniqueness and personality in here and The Band were obviously top notch.

Overall, while the whole release is about a 90 or 89, if I exclude the Band's added songs and just consider Dylan's material here with such classics as "This Wheel's On Fire", "Clothes Line Saga", "Million Dollar Bash", "Goin' to Acapulco", "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", "Tears of Rage" and "Lo and Behold" etc, you're lookin' at an all time unimitable (although often attempted) classic!

Grade: 95/100

(Oh and won't that be the great Bootleg Series ever if they literally released and remastered ALL 100+ songs that are out there of the real Basement tapes? Whoa!!!)

((Note I wrote the above need for all the basement tapes 2 years before they were indeed fully released. so yeah, that is amazing))
[First added to this chart: 09/30/2013]
Year of Release:
1975
Appears in:
Rank Score:
1,853
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Comments:
10. (=)
4 January 2014

"Desire" was a grower for me. For years and years I thought it was just alright. I guess some part of me thought it was weird and pretentious (whatever that means) and just something that didn't seem to fit into Dylan's discography or my idea of it.

Then one day I gave this album another listen and something clicked. This album IS INDEED very unique in Dylan's body of work. There is something so beautiful and magical and mysterious and mesmerizing about this record.

All the aspects - from his vocals to the songwriting style (due in no small part to his collaboration with Jacques Levy for this album only) the atmospheric violin work, the harmonies, etc are all unique to this record.

Another great aspect to this album is the world music vibes on tracks like "Romance In Durango" and "Mozambique" and others.

The opener is by far the most famous song on here. And while "Hurricane" is an epic and impressive and engaging song, it is probably my least favorite song here. That says a lot about how excellent this album is.

As for my favorite song, "Sara" is probably the one. This song is so tender and sad. It really makes me feel so much for Bob's and Sara's relationship. It's almost uncomfortable how close you are allowed to get to his marriage and into this man's life.

Anyway, in closing, following up "Blood On The Tracks" is a huge task, but Dylan did as well as anyone could expect here. This album is truly a marvel from start to finish.

Grade: 94/100
[First added to this chart: 01/04/2014]
Year of Release:
1976
Appears in:
Rank Score:
4,826
Rank in 1976:
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Overall Rank:
Average Rating:
Comments:
Total albums: 73. Page 1 of 8

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Bob Dylan Chart composition

Decade Albums %


1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 0 0%
1960s 9 12%
1970s 13 18%
1980s 10 14%
1990s 8 11%
2000s 13 18%
2010s 18 25%
2020s 2 3%
Country Albums %


United States 64 88%
Mixed Nationality 9 12%
Compilation? Albums %
No 60 82%
Yes 13 18%
Live? Albums %
No 58 79%
Yes 15 21%
Soundtrack? Albums %
No 69 95%
Yes 4 5%

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Bob Dylan Chart ratings

Average Rating: 
93/100 (from 21 votes)
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This chart is rated in the top 1% of all charts on BestEverAlbums.com. This chart has a Bayesian average rating of 92.8/100, a mean average of 95.7/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 95.9/100. The standard deviation for this chart is 5.2.

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Rating:  
100/100
From 11/07/2018 12:49
I felt like I needed a chart like this. Bob Dylan a living legend!!!
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +2 votes (2 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
85/100
From 05/30/2018 01:40
This is pretty cool. I can see lots of effort has gone in to it. However you're missing some of Dylan's best albums! Oh Mercy, and then basically all the studio albums from Time Out of Mind to present are absolutely phenomenal. Time Out of Mind is especially good, my #2 Dylan album at the moment. Other than that (and the fact that Blonde on Blonde is so low! How could you??), you're doing great work. Keep it up!
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From 12/09/2015 12:17
Great hobby to rank the albums of the grestest solo performer in the history of popular music. One piece of advice hunt down Biograph its the grandfather of the bootleg series if you like but comfortably better than any of them (except poss live 66!)
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
95/100
From 11/24/2015 05:16
Cool chart, but you have to finish it. Again the comments are great. Being a huge Dylan fan, I would have ranked them differently. I think I'm going to have to steal the idea for my first custom chart also, thanks!
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Rating:  
100/100
From 03/26/2015 18:44
I'd be interested on your thoughts on Dylan & The Dead

Come back to this!
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Rating:  
90/100
From 12/10/2014 04:15
Revisited is definitely Dylan's best work, and for that your chart definitely wins me over. i love the notes you've added btw
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
90/100
From 07/28/2014 14:14
Fabulous! Personally I would put Blonde on Blonde in the number 2 spot and rate Desire ahead of Blood on the Tracks...but thats just me. Bob rules!
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
100/100
From 05/09/2014 04:31
I'm also interested to see what your absolute least favorite Dylan album is when this is all said and done. My bet is Under The Red Sky
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
100/100
From 05/09/2014 04:29
Love it. Of course I would've had Blood On The Tracks at #1 but that's me, #2 ain't bad. You can't go wrong with just about any of these albums. I'll be interested to see your opinion on his 80s stuff. 80s Dylan can be tough to listen to at time, but I think albums like Saved get more hate than they should.

Anyways, good chart, love it.
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Rating:  
95/100
From 02/14/2014 14:25
Perfect top two, and I like seeing BoB so far down.
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Best Ever Artists
1. The Beatles
2. Radiohead
3. Pink Floyd
4. David Bowie
5. Bob Dylan
6. Led Zeppelin
7. The Rolling Stones
8. Arcade Fire
9. The Velvet Underground
10. Nirvana (US)
11. Kendrick Lamar
12. The Smiths
13. Neil Young
14. Miles Davis
15. The Beach Boys
16. Kanye West
17. Pixies
18. Jimi Hendrix
19. Bruce Springsteen
20. R.E.M.
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